So the other day I was having lunch at KFC (2-piece, Original Recipe with cole slaw if you must know). During my meal, the thought popped in my head, “Why in the world would they ask him that?” This could be further proof that I should not be left alone for too long, or there’s something among those 11 herbs and spices.
The question I was questioning is in John, chapter 1. John the Baptist points Jesus out to two of his disciples. They leave John and start following Jesus who gets a sense he’s picked up a tail. He turns around and asks them, “What are you seeking?” They respond with a question of their own, “Teacher, where are you staying?”
What kind of question is that? Maybe John was picking a fight with Luke. One said, “There was no place for them in the inn.” The other countered, “Oh yes, there was!”
Perhaps John subtly protests a Gnostic claim against the humanity of Jesus. Two real, live human beings spent the day with Jesus at his hotel. They saw him eat and drink and take a nap. He was real. The saw him, heard him and touched him.
Maybe this is simply how a potential student applies to enroll with a new rabbi. They were John the Baptist’s disciples. He had announced that one greater than him was coming. He pointed him out. Naturally, his students had been prepared to move up higher and study with the new teacher. It could be some kind of way to ask, “Where is your school? If it’s down by the river, too, we’ve got to tell you we’re not big fans of the cafeteria!”
These two disciples started following Jesus, and they discovered that they weren’t going to spend the rest of their time at headquarters. They asked Jesus where he was staying, and they hit the road to see the answer to their question.
Luke lets Jesus express, “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” That’s accurate. Jesus moved around a lot, and his disciples walked around with him. Actually staying anywhere for more than a little while was beyond the norm.
My Bible scholar friends have already beaten me to the punch. The Greek in this passage that’s translated “staying” is from meno which has nothing to do with temporary lodging. In other passages meno is translated “abide” or “remain”.
Andrew and his friend follow Jesus and actually ask a pretty deep question. Where can we count on finding you? Where can we go to be with you? Where can we go to receive what you have to offer?
“Where are you staying?” This question get’s answered more with a who than a where. John the Baptist’s disciples were looking for a new teacher. They spent time abiding with Jesus and they found the Messiah. Wherever Jesus is staying, wherever he abides, people have the opportunity to believe.
Where do we meet Jesus? The simple answers might be at church, in Sunday school, in Bible study and devotions. I’ve seen Jesus abiding in plenty of other places. In the “family waiting room” of the hospital emergency department, a young woman wailed inconsolably hearing the news of her mother’s death. Jesus was there. He shows up at the homeless shelter—he’s the one standing in line for food. He’s present during the drought desperate for a drink of cool, clean water. He could even be working behind the counter at KFC.
Where does Jesus stay? Well, where are you? He’s there, too, but you’ll have to open your eyes and look for him. Stay with him, and believe.